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Archive for the ‘release feature’ Category

BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 6 March 2018 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE FEATURE – THE INNKEEPER’S DAUGHTER by MICHELLE GRIEP

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY FEATURE – THE INNKEEPER’S DAUGHTER by MICHELLE GRIEP

                                                                             

Dover, England, 1808: Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambling gentleman to expose a high-stakes plot against the king—and he’s a master of disguise, for Johanna Langley believes him to be quite the rogue. . .until she can no longer fight against his unrelenting charm.

All Johanna wants is to keep the family inn afloat, but when the rent and the hearth payment are due at the same time, where will she find the extra funds? If she doesn’t come up with the money, there will be nowhere to go other than the workhouse—where she’ll be separated from her ailing mother and ten-year-old brother.

Alex desperately wants to help Johanna, especially when she confides in him, but his mission—finding and bringing to justice a traitor to the crown—must come first, or they could all end up dead.

 

Wrapping her fingers tight around the ladder, Johanna stretched her arm toward the crevice. Close, but not enough to wedge the garland into the crack.

She sucked in a breath, held it, and leaned farther. Her fingertips brushed the breach. Barely. If she stretched a hair closer and shifted her weight a bit, then—

Wood cracked. The world tipped. Johanna flailed, fingers seeking something—anything—to grab onto. A splinter pierced her skin as wood scraped her palms. She tumbled headlong, a scream to wake the dead ripping out of her throat.

She squeezed her eyes shut, tightening every muscle for impact, and—

Landed on a pair of outstretched arms that scooped her up against a solid chest.

“Careful, missy.”

A deep voice rumbled against her ear, reminding her of an autumn day, all golden and warm. Her eyes flew open. The man holding her matched the voice perfectly. Shoulder length hair, the color of spent leaves fallen to the ground, framed a face kissed by the sun, browned yet fair. His coat, rough against her cheek, smelled of bergamot and wood smoke, spicy but sweet. If September were flesh and blood, it would look exactly like the man holding her.

She blinked, speechless, breathless—and totally drawn in by his brilliant blue gaze.

“Miss? Are you all right?” he asked.

“I. . .” Her voice squeaked, stuck somewhere between mortified and mesmerized. She swallowed, then tried again. “I am fine. Thank you.”

“Well then, let’s see if your legs work better than that ladder.” He bent and set her down.

She wobbled, and he grabbed her elbow. La! She must look like a newborn foal.

Behind her, laughter rang out. “What a catch! You should’ve seen the look on your face, Jo.”

A slow burn started somewhere low, her toes maybe, or her tummy, melting her embarrassment and stoking up a hot rage. She reeled about and planted her fists on her hips. “This was your chore to finish, brother. Had you been here, I’d not have fallen.”

The man stepped between them. “Don’t be hard on him, miss. The boy had his own fall from grace.”

“Really?” She folded her arms and dissected her brother’s wide eyes. “What have you been up to this time, Thomas?”

“Filling the inn.” The boy’s chest puffed out a full inch as he lifted his chin. “I got us another guest, and good thing too, or you’d have smashed your head like a—”

“Alexander Morton, at your service, miss.” The man cut Thomas off with a bow, chivalrous to a degree that nearly made her smile.

Stuffing down her irritation, she dipped her head toward Mr. Morton. “Thank you, sir, for indeed, your service was welcome. I am grateful you stopped me from breaking any bones, though I own my pride is scuffed.” She straightened her shoulders, resuming her role as hostess. “Welcome to the Blue Hedge Inn. My name is Johanna Langley.”

 

rem:   Hullo, Michelle, and congratulations on your newest release! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

MICHELLEBeing that I’m fond of air conditioning and running water, I’d stay in this century but I’d move to Ironbridge, England. It’s a tiny little town set in the Severn Valley River Gorge. Think of the shire on steroids and you’ll have a mental image of it. Absolutely gorgeous.

 

rem:   No kidding! I can’t imagine living with no running water! Or internet!!!  :-O Where did you find this story idea?

MICHELLE:   I’ve been to Dover several times. On my last trek there, I hiked the white cliffs and came across some hidey holes that might have been used for smuggling back in the day. It made me wonder what could’ve been hidden and who might have hidden said goods. That’s where it all began.

 

rem:   I SOOOO want to go there!!! Take me with you next time??? Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

MICHELLEMr. Nutbrown was the easiest. He’s a quirky fellow and I’m all about quirk. Tanny Needler was the hardest to write because he’s just a big jerk.

 

rem:   And the quirky is what we love about you!! What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

MICHELLEWhen I’m feeling the need to be healthy, I love apples cut up with almond butter. When I’m in a junk-o-holic mood, I reach for the tortilla chips. But I always drink kombucha no matter the snack.

 

rem:   Love me some apples, love me some almonds (haven’t tried almond butter) and love me some tortilla chips—have not even tried kombucha!! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

MICHELLE:   Recover? Who has time for that? I jump on the next story and ride it into the ground.

 

rem:   Right!!  LOL  I thought I’d take some time after my third book, but NOOOOO, Simone et all started chattering at me and I was immersed in their story within a week!! Michelle, congratulations again, and thank you for taking time to visit with me on the blog today.

 

MICHELLE:   Thanks for hosting me!

 

rem:   My pleasure!!

 

I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write–except for that graffiti phase I went through as teenager.

 

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“Broken things are always the beginning of better things.”

 

“The most plentiful yields come from a field ravaged by a plow.”

 

“Either bring your broken heart to God—or your broken heart will make you leave God.”

 

“If you lose what you love to gain that which you don’t, merely out of a sense of duty, such an action can never be right.”

 

“The easiest way to manage a difficulty is to think before acting.”

 

“To admit he’d anguished over this meeting would show weakness—a trait he’d vowed never again to embrace.”

 

“When she turned and met his gaze, the tray in her hands teetered, and her face paled to the shade of fine parchment.”

 

“Her brows lowered, and though she gazed at him, he suspected she didn’t see. Her eyes were too glassy. Her fingers clenched together too tightly. Some kind of sour memory trembled across her lower lip. What tormented her?”

 

“Without so much as a flinch, Alex stared down the barrel of the loaded question.”

 

“Her heart beat loud in her ears. Curse the man for making her feel so precious … She had not right to feel this cherished.”

 

“God stamps His value on everyone—on you—by virtue of His grace.”

 

  1. During the early 1800s, even in good inns it was not unusual for total strangers to share rooms or even beds.
  2. Dover Castle is one of my favorite castles to visit.
  3. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) was my inspiration for Alexander Moore.
  4. If I could pick a theme song for this book, it would be Berlin by the Piano Guys.
  5. I didn’t have a little brother like Thomas. I am the baby in my family.
  6. I love English pub fare.
  7. I think it would be hilarious to have a parrot like Tanny Needler’s, repeating inopportune snippits of conversation.
  8. I’m going back to England in May.
  9. I’m currently writing the third and last book in this series, featuring Officer Thatcher.
  10.  While I always include horses in my stories, I really don’t have much experience with them. I’m a city girl, having grown up in the ’hood.

 

Michelle Griep’s words are like a bouquet of flowers, an unusual combination of color and aroma, tall and short, small and grand, it makes for an astonishing arrangement.

And like the fragrance that stays with you, Ms. Griep’s words—more accurately the swell and sway of her words—linger, enveloping the reader in a twisty and intriguing and fascinating tale.

 

And the tale itself! Such intrigue, the twists, the love story—the colourful characters! The message of faith and God’s love gets very real and very personal for this reviewer—our failures do not define us. God’s love and grace and mercy reach out to us even in our failures, perhaps most especially in our failures.

 

I felt Johanna’s anguish and guilt—and I chided her for doing exactly what I’ve done in the past, denied myself love and peace and happiness. I cheered her as she allowed that love to seep into her darkness. And I cheered Alex for seeing the beauty in her, the loveliness even when she could not see.

 

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, Michelle Griep

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 20 February 2018 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE FEATURE – A LIGHT ON THE HILL by CONNILYN COSSETTE

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY FEATURE – A LIGHT ON THE HILL by CONNILYN COSSETTE

                                                               

Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies—and unexpected allies—she will encounter on her way.

 

Series:  #1 Cities of Refuge
Genre:  Biblical Fiction
Release date:  6 February 2018
Pages:  313
Publisher:  Bethany House

 

Grief caught in my throat. “Is there no hope at all?”

She shrugged one humped shoulder. “I am a healer and have gathered many medicines and spells from many lands, but what this man needs is a skilled physician.”

Hope flickered. “Where can we find someone like this?”

She scratched her chin and wrinkled her frown again. “Aside from Egypt, where men are trained in such arts, the only hope would be Megiddo. But I doubt he will last until we arrive.”

“You are going to Megiddo?”

She nodded. “We’d be there already if it hadn’t been for that storm last night.” She turned to peer at the carving of Ba’al. “You let all your fury loose did you not, my friend?” Again she muttered unintelligible words as if speaking to the wooden idol like one spoke to another person. She turned a cloudy eye on me and froze, her attention honed in on me like a serpent sighting a mouse. “You must leave.”

“But—”

“My friends do not want you here.” She jabbed a long-nailed finger at me. “You bear the mark of my Lord and Lady but you do not serve them. Go. Leave.”

 

rem:   Hullo Conni, and CONGRATULATIONS on your new book!! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

CONNILYNOh goodness, I think I am too spoiled to want to actually live in another time period. I need my wifi and my Kindle just too much. But I really would really love to visit the 20’s if I could meet my grandma Ruth when she was young. She was a beautiful singer when she was young but by the time I knew her that operatic voice had deteriorated so much. I would so love to experience what life was like for her then, it was such an interesting time in our country with cool architecture and art and fashion but stay there for good? No thanks. I’ll be here in my air conditioning, writing books on my laptop and drinking a latte!

rem:   I know right!! Gimme a time machine and I’ll visit all kinds of times and places!! But there’s no place like home! Where did you find this story idea?

CONNILYN:   I wanted to follow the natural progression of the story after the Exodus because I wanted to write Moryiah’s story (from Wings of the Wind) and once I read Joshua 20 about the Cities of Refuge my imagination was stirred.

rem:   Conni, I gotta say I love the progression of your stories! Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

CONNILYNMoriyah was very easy because I know her so well and so I was able to slip into her skin. Because of her appearance she deals with a lot of the insecurities that all modern women face, so that also contributed to the ease with which she flowed onto the page. The most difficult was probably Yuval because it took me a while to determine his motives for his actions, but once I did he became one of my favorites and actually his original fate changed drastically.

rem:   Oh! I loved Yuval! What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

CONNILYN: I try to avoid munching when I am writing because otherwise I end up at the bottom of bags without realizing how much I’ve stuffed in my mouth, but I do drink lots of coffee and tea at night.

  rem:   Oh yeah, I’m a 24/7 tea-drinking kinda gal! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

CONNILYNOnce I turn in a manuscript I take an entire month off of writing so I can recharge my brain and so I can have completely fresh inspiration when I dig into the next story.

rem:   So.Smart. I think most readers don’t know what it takes of how much work it is to write our stories. Especially yours, with such cultural detail. Congratulations again on your latest lovely story!

 

 

Connilyn Cossette is the Christy Award Nominated and CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series from Bethany House Publishers. There’s not much she enjoys more than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com

 

1 – “Perhaps it is the vineyard he desires now, my beautiful daughter. But no one could resist loving you, if they give it a chance. I believe that Yahweh is providing a man who will see beyond the veil, past the mark, and into your heart.”

 

2 – Throughout the long, restless night on my bed, I conjured up all manner of doubts, trying to imagine what sort of man my father had chosen for me, what he might look like, and what he would think of me. Had he heard rumors like the ones that market girl had flung at me? And when he did, would he change his mind or ignore them? I was not sure which outcome I feared more.

 

3 – All the years between Jericho and now seemed to be charred beyond redemption, as though the brand had sunk deep into my soul, burning away even the roots of hope I’d once clung to, and leaving behind only a patch of ashy dust.

 

4 – Could I dare hope that Darek could look past such shame? Unbidden hope curled around my heart, squeezing it in ways I’d not entertained for a very long time.

 

5 – “You have experienced something that no one should ever have to, and yet you handled it with dignity. Instead of railing against your lot, you endure it with quiet grace.”

 

6 – His attention lost among the glowing embers, Darek tapped a steady rhythm against his knee. The minute gesture caused my thoughts to revisit the festival, when a relentless drumbeat and the flicker of brazier flames had encircled that brief moment when he’d smiled at me and taken a step in my direction.

 

7 – The longer the rain pelted down, the slicker the trail became. Rivulets of water began to wash down the side of the slope as we climbed, dragging mud and pebbles with them in their mad rush into the valley… The drop-off next to the trail made my stomach wobble—one wrong move and I’d tumble to the rocks below. Perhaps a fitting end for a murderer.

 

8­ – Fear was a living, breathing thing stretched along my shoulders, weighing me down…

 

9 – How had I allowed myself to be so thoroughly chained inside a prison of my own making? I’d not only hidden behind the veil, I’d hidden inside my house, and eventually curled up on the inside, too, letting the barrier grow thicker and thicker as the years went on… And perhaps it was not Yahweh who had stopped whispering to my heart… but me who had built a wall between us.

 

10 – None of this was mine to control. My life had always been in the hands of Yahweh; even before I was born and my grandparents had chosen to walk away from Egypt, my path had always been His to determine.

 

Connilyn Cossette immediately became one of my favorite authors when I read her first book, Counted With the Stars two years ago. Her research and knowledge of the culture, and her skill at weaving that into her story is now much anticipated with each new story; she does not disappoint in A Light on the Hill.

 

There is such depth and so many layers to this story, I’m not even sure where to begin… Moriyah has hidden behind a secret from her past—and I think that’s true for so many of us. Her journey to freedom is not easy, and I felt her struggle every step of the way. I felt, nay, I know, her resistance to letting others in, letting others love her.

I must confess that any time I’ve ever read the Old Testament, I never picked up on the Levitical cities of refuge. Ms. Cossette brings to life an invaluable analogy of God’s care and provision for us. Moriyah’s very flight to safety was fraught with danger; so, too, sometimes is our way to the arms of God.

That God used the very thing that scarred her to bring her to the city of refuge is also very true of His touch on our lives. As the song says, nothing is wasted.

 

Ms. Cossette tells Moriyah’s story so beautifully, her fears real and tangible, her will to survive curious to her. The love story mingled in with the history and the terror of their journey brought tears to my eyes more than once. And always, always, God’s heart and His redemptive power.

 

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, A Light on the Hill, Connilyn Cossette, Cities of Refuge

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 13 February 2018 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE FEATURE – THE LACEMAKER by LAURA FRANTZ

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY FEATURE – THE LACEMAKER by LAURA FRANTZ

                                                                             

When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson is abandoned by her fiancé and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.

Noble’s prayer for a discreet entrance to the Palace’s festivities was answered. At the precise moment he and Lady Elisabeth stepped into the flower-strewn entry, a woman swooned at the far end of the ballroom, and several liveried footmen rushed to her rescue. Every eye was fixed on the ailing Lady Grey, and Noble simply guided Elisabeth Lawson by the elbow into the midst of the glittering assembly. A first minuet was struck, and they moved onto the polished parquet floor with the other dancers as if they’d been there from the first.

She looked up at him, her intelligent eyes assessing, a relieved pleasure pinking her powdered features as if he was—dare he think it?—some sort of hero. When she looked away from him, his eyes traced the delicate oval of her face, noting every detail. A dimple in her left cheek, visible even without a smile. Darkly arched brows. Aquiline nose. Remarkably blue eyes. Smooth white shoulders sloped down to an elaborately embroidered gown that seemed to catch the light of every candle.

She hardly looked besmirched, yet she was. Not only by her rake of a fiancé but by he himself and his less than honorable intentions squiring her. Beside her he felt less than gallant, using her ladyship for political purposes, though his cause was noble enough.

Though he hadn’t danced in what seemed a decade, she made the reacquaintance almost effortless. A discarded memory pulled at him and fell into place. Lady Elisabeth was the same woman he’d seen with Lord Dunmore’s daughters in the royal gardens not long ago, trying to master the steps of some complicated country dance. He remembered her laugh, not high and flutelike as he thought it would be, but throaty and rich as a violoncello. The dancing master had not been amused, he remembered, when he and his fellow burgesses had slowed to watch as they left a meeting at the Palace.

Her eyes were no longer on him but swept the room restlessly. She was looking for Miles Roth, obviously, and he felt curiously let down. His cousin deserved a sound thrashing for his wayward ways. If only Miles was made of sterner stuff, immune to Henry’s wiles. Yet Patriots like him and Henry relied on Miles’s weaknesses to strengthen their own cause. Still, Noble’s own part in the scheme sat uneasily.

He was suddenly aware of a great many eyes upon them now, for a great many reasons. Without prior arrangement, without forethought, the two of them were the only wigless, unpowdered people in the room. And her lovely gown with its avalanche of lace was a perfect foil for the dark ribbed silk of his suit. For the moment they seemed to be creating as much a stir as Miles’s absence and Noble’s own unannounced end to mourning.

By the time Miles finally entered, the shimmering ice sculptures had begun swimming in crystal punch bowls in the adjoining supper room, and the spun sugar frosting on the enormous tiered cake had succumbed to a slow melt. One look at him and Noble knew someone had had to pry the dice from Miles’s hand to get him here. In his yellow satin suit, he looked like a giant honeybee, a port stain splotched across his waistcoat, his stock askew. Noble felt a blistering embarrassment for Elisabeth Lawson.

Duty bound, he squired her about the crowded edges of the ballroom to Miles’s side, struck by the horrendously incompatible picture they made. She so pure and genteel, his cousin debauched and half drunk.

It seemed a grim prediction of their future.

Before Elisabeth could recover her manners and thank him, Noble Rynallt had turned his back on them and made his way to the knot of gentlemen near an open window. He slid through the perspiring summer crowd—no easy task, given the crush of three hundred people in attendance. She watched him go with a mixture of relief and regret.

At his exit, her father was soon at her elbow, looking down at her. To the casual observer he seemed unruffled, but she knew better. “I’d thought to see you here long before now.”

The stern words were directed at her, not her intended, as if she was somehow to blame for both Miles’s tardiness and her own.

“My apologies, sir.” Miles reached up a hand to straighten his stock, eyes roving the overwarm room. “I was detained.”

At least Miles had the gumption to speak for her. Whatever his faults, he was one of the few men not cowed by her father. He was, for better or worse, unapologetically … Miles.

Elisabeth looked in dismay at the deep purple stain blooming on his chest, the hue of Noble Rynallt’s impeccable attire. Moving in front of Miles, she reached out a gloved hand and drew his suit coat closed with a steel-cut button, hiding the offending mark. His voice held a trace of tenderness. “Ah, m’lady, always looking out for me.”

She softened at the unexpected words. Aware of her father’s scrutiny, she resisted the urge to tuck in a strand of fair hair falling free of Miles’s wig. Truly, yellow was not a good color on him. He looked washed out, a wastrel. Had he no valet? Once they’d wed she’d help manage his wardrobe with suitable shades.

“I suppose we should dance,” he finally murmured, eyeing the crowd.

Her father looked on as a Scotch reel was struck, as lively as the minuet had been sedate.

Once in Miles’s arms she was overcome by the distillation of sweat, snuff, and spirits. He moved a bit wildly, limbs loosened by too much port.

Through the melee of whirling, swirling dancers, Noble Rynallt’s face stayed steadfast. Now standing near the supper room doors, he resembled one of the paintings on the ornate walls. Guarded, watchful, unsmiling.

Not far from him was Lady Charlotte, her crimson silk a fiery counterpoint to her oldest daughter’s ice-blue taffeta. Any displeasure she felt about the presence of one of the Independence Men was well hidden. Indeed, Lady Charlotte was smiling at Elisabeth benignly, making anything else of little consequence.

And her fiancé? He looked bored. Irritated. At the very ball in his honor.

            Oh, Miles, you are enjoying none of this.

All the heart went out of her. Her father’s disapproval, Miles’s sated disinterest, her own inability to partake of any merriment, all worked to snuff any flicker of joy. “Sunny,” folks about Williamsburg sometimes called her, on account of her felicitous disposition.

Tonight she felt sunny no longer.

 

rem:   Hullo Laura, and congratulations on your new and lovely book! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

LAURADefinitely the 18th-century, just after the American Revolution and not during it! I confess to having little interest in the 19th-century so am content to write stories before it. And I’ll soon be leaping back to the 17th-century and am excited about that bit of time travel as well.

 

rem:   Ooh! Intriguing! Not sure I’ve read any in the 17th century—can’t wait to get my hands on it! #winkwink Where did you find this story idea?

LAURAI thought of it after my sons bought me the American Girl doll, Felicity, who is their 18th-century creation and lives in Colonial Williamsburg much like my heroine in The Lacemaker. I’ve always loved Colonial Williamsburg as a historic site but never dreamed I’d be blessed to set a novel there!

 

rem:   I love American Girls Dolls—bought a couple of them when my daughter was a little girl. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

LAURA: Liberty’s father was hard as he was so despicable. I found little to like about him so my distaste for him surely shows and I couldn’t wait to get him off the page! Liberty or Lady Elisabeth was the easiest. Easy to put myself in her shoes and imagine her life of luxury and then her losses. I like her steadfast faith and her focus on the positive very much!

 

rem:   I enjoyed reading Lady Elisabeth’s faith, and how it sustained her through unimaginable circumstances; it blessed me and boosted my own faith. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

LAURA: Buttered popcorn and Coke Life. I’m a bonafide foodie and can honestly say I love writing more than eating so if the writing is flowing, I forget all about snacks!

 

rem:   Love me some good buttered popcorn! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

LAURAI take a few days off and treat myself to something even if it’s just going out to dinner at a favorite place. And chocolate, always chocolate 😊.

 

rem:   Of course chocolate!! And yeah to a few days “off” – if an author can ever truly shut it off… Laura, thanks ever so much for visiting my blog today!

 

Award-winning, bestselling author Laura Frantz is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky.

According to Publishers Weekly, “Frantz has done her historical homework.” With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California.

Readers can find Laura Frantz at www.laurafrantz.net

 

  • For long moments Elisabeth waited for him to speak. When he didn’t, she turned her face to him. This close, in stark daylight, she could see a few strands of silver in his charcoal hair. And once again her focus shifted from herself to him. What sorrows beyond Enid had he borne that had ages him so?
  • Though she was an indentured servant, Isabeau did not have a father who orchestrated her every move.
  • All the heart went out of her. Her father’s disapproval, Miles’s sated disinterest, her own inability to partake of any merriment, all worked to snuff any flicker of joy.

  • He simply nodded, not wanting to tell her the truth of what was coming, unwilling to smother the glimmer of hope he saw resurface in her comely face. The Revolution he’d helped bring about had dawned… Elisabeth Lawson was among the first casualties.
  • In the span of that tender thought as she stared down at him, he looked up. Across the expanse of slate roof and emerald lawn his gaze lingered, and it seemed he’d reached out and touched her.
  • Not once had she heard [her father] ask for forgiveness, admit fault. Pride and arrogance had been the pattern of his life and the heart of his every interaction, but it had taken distance and turmoil for her to see it clearly.

  • Perhaps instead of railing against the loss of a home and a husband who was grievously wrong for her, she should fall on her knees and thank God for breaking the pattern of destruction in her life.
  • Her beautiful, beloved Williamsburg was reassuringly familiar yet achingly strange. The gardens, the rear porches, the stables, and the dependencies along these streets were no different. But she was changed.
  • His pulse did a jig… Though it had been merely a few days since he’d seen her, the longing to do so had not only lingered but intensified.

 

Exquisitely written, impeccably researched, delicious prose.

 

It was unthinkable, the attraction between them—she a Tory and he a Patriot. But as the beginnings of the Revolutionary War rumbled around them, and her father left her to the incapable hands of her betrothed, Elisabeth Lawson begins to question British loyalties.

Noble Rynallt is rubbing shoulders with the likes of George Washington and Patrick Henry, and it’s too late for second thoughts; his very convictions make him a marked man, wanted by the British for sedition and treason.

 

How can two such disparate persons overcome their differences? How will their love even begin in the turmoil that surrounds them?

 

Ms. Frantz tells a remarkable tale of love and faith, and strength in the face of opposition, courage when the odds are seeming impossible. I was captivated not only with the story, but the details that bring it to life on each page. Some of the terminology was new to me, and I especially loved the Welsh bits Ms. Frantz included!

 

Anwylyd

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, The Lacemaker, Laua Frantz, Anwylyd

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 6 February 2018 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE FEATURE – HIGH TREASON by DIANN MILLS

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY FEATURE – HIGH TREASON by DIANN MILLS

                                                                             

When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised―and none too happy―when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt.

Kord and Monica must quickly put aside interagency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit―plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince―or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?

 

FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson had survived missions in the Middle East, been detained in Iran, escaped an ISIS death trap, and still walked and talked. His past kept him fueled for the future while adrenaline flowed whenever he recalled the danger—and the victories of working Houston’s terrorist division.

Early Tuesday morning, Kord sat in a Mercedes limo with Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal, his longtime friend and a grandson of the royal Saud family, en route to the Saud mansion in River Oaks. The prince’s mother, Princess Gharam, and his two sisters rode in a limo behind them. Prince Omar had requested Kord for protection detail as an olive branch to the Americans. Smart move, in Kord’s opinion. The strained relations between Saudi Arabia and the US resulting from falling oil prices and the US having less dependency on foreign oil was only part of the problem. Despite being a strong ally to the West in the fight against terrorism, the Saudis disapproved of how the US was handling the ongoing tension in Iran, Syria, and Yemen, and the list went on.

Kord shook off those bleak thoughts and turned his attention to the security detail. “I’m looking forward to catching up with your family,” he said to the prince. “I appreciate the e-mails with your sons’ photos, but I want to know all about them from their father.”

Prince Omar grinned like a boy himself. “They study hard and work even harder at mischief. You and I will have hours of coffee and conversation.” His expression shifted to lines that aged

him. “I wish the circumstances regarding my mother were more pleasant.”

“MD Anderson is the best medical center in the world to help her.”

“And Houston has the only facility conducting a clinical trial for her type of cancer. I keep telling myself she’ll be fine, trying to be hopeful. I have an appointment with her team of doctors after she’s admitted to the hospital this afternoon. They want to review the testing from her doctor in Riyadh and explain their proposed method of treatment.” He paused. “I’m glad you’re with me. In case Mother’s treatments aren’t successful, I’ll need a friend.”

“Princess Gharam’s a strong woman.”

“She’s determined to fight the cancer.”

“I see your business plans aren’t on the schedule.”

Prince Omar turned to him. “I’ll give you that once I know about Mother’s treatment.”

“My job is to ensure your safety.”

“We’ll discuss it later. On Wednesday week, I’d like for you to accompany me to Saudi Aramco.”

He responded respectfully. How many of those at the family business were supportive of Prince Omar’s plans to lease ownership in Saudi oil reserves to Americans?

Prince Omar tapped his driver on the shoulder. “Wasi, don’t forget we’re stopping at the Frozen Rock.”

“A little early for ice cream,” Kord said.

“Not on Riyadh time.”

The prince’s press secretary, Malik, laughed. “Prince Omar, I reserved the shop for 9 a.m. before we left home.”

The moment the limos pulled off Westheimer into the busy shopping strip housing the Frozen Rock, uneasiness crept over Kord. A sensation he couldn’t shake and one he’d learned to trust. He scoured the area looking for potential danger.

“Prince Omar, I don’t think we should do this.”

“This is one of Mother’s favorite excursions, and my sisters enjoy it too.”

He glanced at his friend. “Zain and I can take orders and deliver them. My gut tells me this isn’t safe, and I can’t give you a solid reason why.”

“I know your gut talk,” Zain, the head Saudi bodyguard, said.  “Kept us from getting killed a couple of times.”

Prince Omar sighed heavily. “We have eight armed men. This is a go.”

Wasi drove the limo to a far corner beneath an oak where both limos had room to park. The Frozen Rock sat midway in the retail center.

Zain turned to the prince. “Kord and I will make the initial trip and ensure the area is secure. After I talk to the owner and pay him per the conversation Malik had yesterday, I’ll call you. If I detect anything risky, we can cancel.”

The prince lifted his phone and frowned. “My battery is dead. Must have used it up at the airport. Call Malik if there’s a problem.”

Per the State Department and HPD, the bodyguards, all dressed in suits, were permitted to carry weapons in case of an attack. But Kord couldn’t shake off the wariness. Only Zain and Prince Omar wore white cotton pants and shirts under their thobe and ghutra with a black mishlah. The men shared a remarkable resemblance, but having Zain disguised as the prince gave Kord little relief. He surveyed the area, noting teens from the high school across the

street, two women in workout clothes, and others who gave no apparent reason for the hesitancy in his spirit.

“Would you like for Wasi and Malik to join us?” Zain laughed. “You and I have faced a lot worse than a store owner forgetting to open early.”

“True.” No talking down a stubborn Saudi when he’d made up his mind.

Wasi placed the limo in park.

Kord exited the limo and walked around the front, his attention focused on every conceivable point where danger could be lurking. Finding nothing, he opened the door on Prince Omar’s side, and Zain stepped out, his slender body wrapped in centuries-old culture and tradition.

The two strode across the parking lot toward the window-walled Frozen Rock, painted in vivid orange and neon green. A Closed sign on the door met them, but lights were on inside the shop. Good. The reservations were intact. Now to get the prince and his guests fed and out of there. Was Kord crazy to be so apprehensive?

He knew Zain had his eyes and ears on what was happening around him while his fingers were inches from his weapon. A few feet from the glass door of the ice cream shop, Zain broke his stride.

He fell against the glass door.

The pop of a rifle sounded.

Kord grabbed him, pulling out his Glock with his other hand.

Shouts in Arabic alerted him to bodyguards emerging from the limos close behind him. Time hung suspended. Zain’s body slid to the sidewalk facedown, the ghutra soaked in red.

Kord bent to his friend and felt for a pulse. “Zain,” he whispered, “this isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen.”

No response or faint heartbeat. Blood oozed from the back of his skull, draining a Saudi life onto US concrete.

Screams rose from nearby women and children.

The man who’d shared Middle Eastern danger and saved Kord’s life was dead. No doubt mistaken for Prince Omar. How did the sniper know about the stop at the Frozen Rock?

 

rem:   Hullo DiAnn and CONGRATULATIONS on your newest release! I’m so happy to share it with my readers! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

DIANN:  Now and right where I live in Houston, Texas. There are lots of places I’d like to travel to, but none where I’d want to live.

 

rem:   And I might need to visit Houston, here and now…  #winkwink Where did you find this story idea?

DIANN:   I read about a case in New York City in which the FBI uncovered a plot to assassinate a Saudi Arabian ambassador. I took that thought and set my story in Houston. My characters became CIA Operative Monica Alden, FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson, and Saudi Prince Omar Bin Talal. The story begins when the prince escorts his mother to Houston for receive cancer treatment at MD Anderson …

 

rem:   So, real life becomes fiction! Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

DIANN: Easiest – CIA Operative Monica Alden. She’s a strong woman who respects others and knows how to do her job. She’s fun and the research fairly easy.

The most difficult character was Prince Omar Bin Talal. Writing the Saudi culture took a tremendous amount of research. And double checking of answers. So glad I chose this story, but it was hard.

 

rem:   And that tremendous amount of research paid off! Your story reads so authentically! What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

DIANN: Coffee, water, and peanut butter pretzels. J I think they are a food group.

 

rem:   Of course they are! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

DIANN:  Actually it’s a bit of a sad time because I’m saying goodbye to characters. But I jump in to marketing and promotion while the story’s fresh.

 

rem:   That’s the best way, ‘cause you’re not really saying goodbye yet! DiAnn thanks so much for visiting with us on my blog today.

 

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

 

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.

 

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Mountainside Marketing Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

 

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

 

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers –

 

www.facebook.com/diannmills

https://twitter.com/diannmills

www.diannmills.com

 

  1. DiAnn is an organic writer. Plot stems from character, and she’s a pantster.
  2. She believes writing is a ministry.
  3. She writes romantic suspense because the world can be scary and unforgettable, but there are trained people to stop and prevent crime.
  4. She’s co-director with Edie Melson of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.
  5. She’s co-director with Edie Melson of Mountainside Marketing Conference.
  6. Definitely a coffee snob. She roasts her own coffee beans.
  7. She lives in Houston, Texas, home of heat, humidity, horses, Harleys, and a nasty hurricane called Harvey.
  8. DiAnn is passionate about helping the people of Sudan.
  9. She believes her grandchildren are as close to perfect as possible.
  10. She loves to cook!

 

Conflict of culture, of faith, of past and present. Middle East traditions vs modern Western ideology, Allah or Jesus, old wounds or new hope. Ms. Mills creates high tension on every page. Her characters come alive and the story grabs the reader into the pages. Snappy dialogue and high stakes motivations charge the story intrigue and suspense and treason.

 

I enjoy Ms. Mills’ stories, the suspense and twists from beginning to end. The depth of her research reads like a current events news story; her characters are likeable and real, and I like reading their growth as the story progresses. It was a little dry reading in places, but then again, I read this after a colorful and vivid story of adventure. Ms. Mills writing is rife with details and specifics that make High Treason come alive. A must read for all mystery and suspense lovers!

 

 

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, High Treason, DiAnn Mills, FBI Task Force Book 3, Deadly Encounter, Deep Extraction

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 2 November 2017 – TUESDAY THURSDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE EVENT – CHARMING THE TROUBLEMAKER by PEPPER BASHAM

TUESDAY THURSDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – CHARMING THE TROUBLEMAKER by PEPPER BASHAM

When Dr. Alex Murdock is demoted to a university in rural Virginia, the last thing he expects to find is a future. But country charm never looked as good as it did on Rainey Mitchell.

Rainey Mitchell does not need a high-class flirt in her wounded world, but trouble and temptation wafts off the new professor as strong as his sandalwood-scented cologne.

When circumstances thrust them together to save her tutoring clinic, can the troublemaker find the hero inside and encourage the reticent Rainey to open her heart again?

 

She growled and slowed her run, glancing back the way she’d come. Oh no!

Alex was headed directly toward Old Man Spencer’s and the ferocious pack of dogs. She hesitated, a little fight-or-flight mamba dancing through her mind, then sprinted up the hill.

“Alex,” she called to him, but he didn’t turn. Against the burn in her legs, she pushed harder up the hill toward him.

Misty morning woods framed the road on both sides, and Rainey’s attention honed in on her target. He had a nice stride in his run, solid and smooth, accentuating the tight shape of his backside in those sweats.

Oh, for heaven’s sake! She groaned at her own mental plummet, and the image loosened in her mind. “Alex.”

He turned his head, plucking one of his earbuds out as he slowed. “Miss me?”

“I’m being neighborly.” She jogged to him, the two of them moving in place. “A pack of unfriendly dogs live at the top of the hill, so unless you want to get a rough country greeting, you’ll turn at the top of the hill and head back down.”

“You warned me? I figured you’d rather feed me to the dogs.”

Rainey opened her mouth to respond and then snapped her lips closed, the uneasy flicker of shame flaming to life in the warmth on her face. She tugged both of her earbuds out and worked up a smile, maybe. It didn’t feel very friendly. “No one deserves that kind of fate.”

“Wow, must be pretty bad.”

“Midas is the worst. He’s a boxer with jaws the size of … of…”

“Jaws?” His lips tilted with his stupid grin, and hers twitched in response.

“Something like that.” She shook her head. “Anyway, just thought you ought to know.” She turned back toward the hill, and within seconds he was beside her, his smile beaming too brightly for  anyone pre-coffee.

“So … you run?” He fell in stride beside her.

Every fiber of her being wanted to bathe him with her most obvious ‘duh’ look, but her devotions from the morning pricked at her annoyance like a seven-year-old with a scab. “I started in college. Mornings are my favorite time.”

Oh great, why did she admit that to him?

“Mine too. You can watch the world wake up.”

She turned to look for a sarcastic expression but found none. Why did she get the weirdest vibes around him? Half the time she wanted to slap the smile off his face, and the other half left her wondering if something much … more was going on behind those seafoam-colored eyes.

 

rem:  Hullo Pepper and congratulations on your newest book baby! If you could live in the era and setting of any one of your books (past, present, or future) which one would it be and why?

PEPPER:   Well, I really love England so the Derbyshire countryside would be super. I also love history, particularly the Edwardian era, but I’d only want to live in that era if I could be in the upper class 😉

rem:   I think I’m with you on that one! Where did you find this story idea?

PEPPER:   While writing A Twist of Faith something about Alex Murdock pinched at my heart. I started asking questions about why he acted the way he was and…well, this story came to life.

rem:   Ya, something about Dr. Alex pricked my heart too… Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

PEPPER:   Actually, this book was full of characters who were just FUN to write. Alex was probably the easiest. Once I figured out his personality, his quips would just jump onto the page and surprise me. Sarah was also really easy (and fun) to write. I guess Rainey might have been the most difficult, but I feel like I’ve known her for two books now, so that helped in writing her.

rem:   Don’tcha just love it when they do that? Jump onto the page like that? What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

PEPPER:   I NEED to munch on something healthy and sometimes I will munch on Veggie Straws. I usually have some sort of tea along with me, but my love is chocolate. Especially kisses and hugs chocolate 😊 (Maybe they inspire me)

rem:   Well, yeah, ya gotta have the chocolate!! #kissykissy  #huggyhuggy What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

PEPPER:   I usually take a writing break for a week or two. Distance myself from the story and little before going through it again. And I usually bake something I love in celebration 😊

rem:  Baking is good! Distance, too, so the new peeps can percolate, right??  Thanks so much for being part of my blog today, Pepper!

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus. Her debut historical novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015 and has garnered awards such as Reader’s Favorites Award, finalist in the Grace Awards, shortlisted for the Inspy Awards, and a finalist in ACFW’s Carol Awards. Her second historical novel, The Thorn Keeper, released in Feb 2016 and her first contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, released in April 2016 with a 4 star review from Romantic Times. In December 2016, her third historical in the Penned in Time series, The Thorn Healer – released with a 4 1/2 star review from RT and a Top Picks rating. You can get to know Pepper on her website, http://www.pepperdbasham.com, on Facebook, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley.

 

www.pepperdbasham.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-D-Basham

https://twitter.com/pepperbasham

https://www.pinterest.com/pepperbasham/

 

They fit together, not quite like biscuits and gravy, but a solid shrimp and grits.

 

 

Ms. Basham has done it again! Sweet and swoony, Charming the Troublemaker will tickle your funny bone and warm the cockles of your heart.

 

Rainey Mitchell fell hard—and was betrayed, leaving deep wounds and deeper scars. Now she’s  raising a five year old as a single mom, and romance is the last thing on her mind. Especially if it involves the arrogant and pretentious Dr. Alex Murdock.

Alex Murdock is hiding his own deep wounds and scars. And hides behind a mask of humor and arrogance.

Then they’re forced to work together. As Rainey and Alex spend more time in one another’s company, they begin to let their own guard down to discover truth of the person behind the mask.

 

The Queen of Swoony doesn’t disappoint with her newest release. The emotions are real, and the heart both warns and shies away—and plunges deep into the danger zone. As each layer of Alex’s shell fell away, this reviewer sympathized with him more and deeper. I fought with him as he struggled to find a true sense of worth, and rejoiced as that began to break through. I felt Rainey’s hurt and distrust as it began to dissipate, and I swooned my own self as love rushed in and enveloped her.

Ms. Basham knows her characters well, and portrays them and their personal fears and angst most realistically. Her prose is elegant and her dialogue crisp and sparkling, with scenarios that leap off the page, after page after page.

 

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Charming the Troublemaker, Pepper Basham, Mitchell’s Crossing, A Twist of Faith

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 24 October 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE FEATURE – THE SORROW STONE by J.A. MCLACHLAN

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY FEATURE – THE SORROW STONE by J.A. MCLACHLAN

                                                                             

What if you could sell your sorrow?
During the middle ages, a mother mourning the death of her child believed she could “sell her sorrow” by selling a nail from her child’s coffin to a traveling peddler.
Lady Celeste is overwhelmed with grief when her infant son dies. Desperate to find relief, she escapes the convent where her husband has sent her to recover and begs a passing peddler to buy her sorrow. Jean, the cynical peddler she meets, is nobody’s fool; he does not believe in superstitions and insists Celeste include the valuable ruby ring on her finger along with the nail in return for his coin.
When Celeste learns that without her wedding ring her husband may set her aside, she determines to retrieve it—without reclaiming her sorrow. But how will she find the peddler and convince him to give up the precious ruby ring?

 

The thud of stones meeting flesh filled his ears. He felt, in his own body, the hot, burning pain as each one hit, tearing the thin fabric of her shift, digging into her bruised and bleeding flesh. It should be him there, not her. He could not move, speak, breathe…

Something shoved up against his leg. His breath emerged in a gasp.

“Mama!”

A girl of five or six squeezed past him. She pushed her way through the crowd till she reached the front, crying all the while, “Mama! Mama!”

The woman’s face was hidden, covered by her hair. The air was thick with stones. Again and again they struck her, but still she did not cry out.

“Mama!” the child screamed again.

The woman looked up.

“Mama!” She sprinted across the open ground. A stone whizzed past her ear. A second hit her back, flinging her to the ground.

The woman cried out then, a wild, animal shriek. It echoed, hideous and compelling, across the square.

She would be killed! The horror of it swept over Jean as he stared at the fallen child. No! He could not bear that! He shoved his way through the crowd, unable to look away from the woman, unable to escape the terror in her eyes as she strained against her bonds, struggling to reach the child sprawled on the ground. She shrieked again, a high, keening noise. Jean gritted his teeth to keep from screaming with her.

At the edge of the crowd he stopped. What was he doing? What in the name of Heaven had come over him?

Then the child moaned and the woman screamed again and Jean ran forward, unable to stop himself. The little girl tried to roll over as Jean reached her. He was no longer looking at the woman, but he felt her strain toward him as he bent down and scooped up the child.

A stone struck the side of his head as he straightened. He staggered, almost dropping the child. He regained his footing and turned to race back to the safety of the crowd.

“The adulterer!” a man cried.

Other voices took up the cry. He stepped forward, but the gap in the crowd where he had pushed through to get to the child had closed against him. A second stone hit his arm. There could be no mistaking that this one was meant for him. He saw the metal smith among the crowd, his arm drawn back, aiming. As Jean watched, he flung his stone.

It hit Jean’s shoulder with a stinging blow that took his breath away. He crouched over the child, holding her tightly to him, more aware of the woman’s anguished cries behind him and the child’s terror than his own pain. Two more stones came flying at him; one missed its mark but the other hit the child’s leg. She screamed and twisted, trying to burrow into him. A third stone hit her cheek, drawing blood. He wrapped both arms around her, leaving his own head exposed as he searched for an opening in the crowd.

 

 

rem:   Hullo Jane Ann, and congratulations on your new story! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

JANE ANN:  If we’re talking “live”, I’d stay right here. I think we have it pretty good right now in Canada, and besides, all the people I love are here. I write very realistic, researched historical fiction of the Middle Ages. No one who is used to 21st Century comfort, health care, and hygiene would want to live there. But I wouldn’t mind a short visit to any number of eras.

rem:   Yes, you DO write very realistic and authentic fiction! And I’m with you, I’ll go visit most anywhere, any time, but wouldn’t want to live there! Where did you find this story idea?

JANE ANN:   I first heard the folk lore it’s based on at a lecture given by a midwife about pregnancy and childbirth in the Middle Ages. I knew I wanted to write about it right away. But it took years of research before the story emerged.

rem:   Again, yes, the depth of authenticity in your story doesn’t come quick—or easy or cheap! And your writing shines for it. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

JANE ANN: Gilles. He’s a minor character who doesn’t show up until the end but when I started writing from his POV, the chapter just leaped off the page with life.

Celeste was the most difficult because when she sells her sorrow, she loses her memories (if she remembered she’d be sad all over again) and she loses her ability to feel emotions. It was very hard to write an unfeeling (literally) character and still make her sympathetic. She wants both back, but at the same time she doesn’t want them back, because her grief for her son was crippling. She’s a very complicated character, and it took a lot of rewrites to get her right.

rem:   And you pulled it off, too, Jane Ann. I ached for her. Well, I wanted to flog her for running, too, but totally understand why she felt the way she did. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

JANE ANN: I chew gum. If I’m out of gum (and I try not to be) I chew my fingernails. When I have no more fingernails, I chew on a pencil. Once I chewed on a pen but I got a mouthful of ink. You can see why I try to never be out of gum.

rem:   Note to self: send Jane Ann some chewing gum… What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

JANE ANN:  I sew a quilt. Or go to a movie. Or read a book. But designing a quilt is best because it satisfies my urge to create something without requiring the mental focus of writing a novel.

rem:   No kidding re the mental focus! I’d love to see some of your quilts sometime! What a lovely outlet for your creativity. Jane Ann, congratulations again, and thank you for taking time to visit with me on the blog today.

 

  1. A. McLachlan was born in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, published by Pandora Press and two College textbooks on Professional Ethics, published by Pearson-Prentice Hall. She has been reading literary fiction, science fiction and historical fiction in equal measure all her life. Walls of Wind was her first published Science Fiction novel. She has two young adult science fiction novels, The Occasional Diamond Thief and The Salarian Desert Game, published by EDGE Publishing. And her first historical fiction, The Sorrow Stone, set in the 12th Century, is now available. She is represented by Carrie Pestritto at Prospect Agency.

 

http://www.janeannmclachlan.com

https://www.facebook.com/janeann.mclachlan

 

  • At first he did not know it was a human being. She lay crumpled on the ground like a bundle of dirty rags tossed aside by some trader.
  • She held out her closed left hand. “Buy it! For the love of God, buy my sorrow before I go insane!” Slowly she opened her fingers. A long black nail, slightly bent near the flattened head, lay across her small white palm.
  • “I cannot remember,” she said. She had had this problem yesterday, but she had been certain a night of sleep would resolve it.
  • Celeste’s eyes widened. She covered her mouth with her hand to prevent herself crying out. Was it true? She remembered the ring, the physical weight of it on her finger, knew it to be her husband’s marriage token. But she could not remember receiving it. She knew her husband’s name but could not visualize his face. He was like a silvered image in her mind, flat and cold, without any distinguishing features.
  • Jean’s wife, Mathilde, had sewed a dozen silk handkerchiefs and embroidered crosses on them. They could sell profitably in their own right, but Jean tripled their value by claiming that they had been blessed at the Saint’s shrine in Santiago.
  • She must confront the peddler alone when she found him. If Lord Bernard learned she had willingly given away her marriage ring, it would not matter that she had later retrieved it.
  • “Lady Celeste? Do you believe God did not hear you?” Celeste looked up, shaken. Father Jacques was watching her, waiting for her answer.
  • The door opens slowly, the quiet scrape of its movement ominous in the darkness. Her feet are frozen to the cold stone floor; she cannot even raise her hand to cover her face, although she cannot bear to see inside the room. The door is fully open now; she cannot breathe, her terror is so great. How small it is, so small it makes her ache. It only covers half the bench it rests on.  She steps through the doorway, stretching her hand toward the little wooden casket—
  • The donkey woke him, braying and surging to its feet. Jean was up almost as quickly, straining to see in the darkness.  Several murky shadows crept between the trees, slightly darker than the surrounding gloom. He swung his staff up as the first one came at him, and heard a satisfying CRACK!
  • Her memory was sparse and fragmented, like a length of cloth after the dress pieces have been cut away from it.
  • It was one thing not to care for people; quite another not to care for God.
  • They passed their sorrow onto others, the nobility. They shed suffering as a snake sheds its skin.

 

  1. To get the setting and period right in The Sorrow Stone, I flew to France and travelled the entire route Jean and Celeste take, including the Cluny Monastery. I drove local guides and historians crazy asking “Was this castle/monastery/building here in the 12th Century? What trades were practiced here then? What was the climate and vegetation like here in the 12th Century?”
  2. When I first heard the folk superstition about selling your sorrow, I was writing speculative fiction at the time, so I tried using the idea in a story, and it totally failed. A publisher, who liked the concept also, asked me, “Why don’t you just write it in the Middle Ages, where it came from?” (Duh, right?) It took years of research to do that, but I’m glad I did. (rem: me too!) Meanwhile, I changed the original story, got rid of all references to sorrow, rewrote it and found a publisher for it. Can you guess which of my novels it is?
  3. After I wrote Gilles’ chapters, I realized I really liked writing young adults, so I wrote three more novels with young adult protagonists. I still find teens the most fun age to write about.
  4. After reading The Sorrow Stone, a reader told me “You do tortured souls really well.” I don’t know if that’s a compliment or a personality flaw, but I realized that I have always been drawn to complex, conflicted characters and the authors who portray them. Here’s my list: The Idiot by Dostoyevski, The Chosen by Chaim Potok, Hamlet and King Lear by Shakespeare, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, The Gold Finch, The Hunger Games… I just realized this list could go on for ten pages.
  5. I once read every novel in my seven preferred genres at the local library, and had to find something else to do till they got more in.
  6. My seven preferred genres (not in any order) are: science fiction, historical fiction, literary fiction, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, fantasy, young adult/coming of age fiction.
  7. I started out writing poetry, and had several of my poems published in anthologies while I was in university.
  8. I once wrote a story which my older sister accused me of plagiarizing from a picture book from the library. I was, like, 8 years old. It was unintentional, but true. I was so mortified at being accused of “cheating” that I quit writing prose altogether. Then, in grad school, I realized that ALL Shakespeare’s dramas and historicals were re-tellings of popular tales or histories. It’s not the tale but how you spin it that makes it original.
  9. Every author has favorites from among their novels. For me, it’s a tie between The Sorrow Stone and Walls of Wind. I’m not sure I’ll ever love another story of mine as much as I love those two.
  10. I love teaching and speaking, no matter the size of the audience. But there was a time I was so nervous about it, a friend asked me whether she should warn my audience to wear raincoats. It wasn’t my voice I was afraid of projecting.

 

Sorrow is a dark companion, a tormenting thing, driving us sometimes to madness.

 

Churning thoughts and vague memories torment Lady Celeste, pushing her to madness in her grief. Selling her sorrow, though, does not bring the relief she so desperately seeks.

 

The peddler, Jean, has no scruples and doesn’t believe the superstition. But his fate seems inexplicably tangled with the Lady whose sorrow he bought—and whose ring he helped himself to.

 

The conflict and agony that drives Lady Celeste is dark and frightening, and very real. The sense of dread—and guilt—that plagues her drives her away from the very place she would be safest. I longed for her memory to surface, no matter how horrible the thing she hid from herself. I longed for the peace of knowing, and accepting, what could not be changed. I fought with her against shadowed memories, and fought with her to cling to the sweet ones.

 

I wanted to throttle the peddler, while feeling an element of sympathy for him, for the life he lived, cruel and crude and harsh. I longed for his peace as much as for Lady Celeste.

 

 

Ms. McLachlan’s storytelling is impeccable, her details and knowledge of life in 12th century France evident on every page. The terminology and vernacular put the reader right on the road with the peddler, or in the abbey with Lady Celeste. The sights and sounds—and smells—come alive as the characters move through their paces. And the story, so tightly woven, compels the reader to keep turning the page.

Both main characters have their storyline, and Ms. McLachlan has interwoven them skillfully into one intricate story, bringing it to a gripping climax and fitting resolution.

 

 

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, The Sorrow Stone, J.A. McLachlan

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BLOGWORDS – Saturday 19 August 2017 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – VIVIENNE HAMPTON

CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – VIVIENNE HAMPTON

“Vivi had draped herself across the chaise longue, her lacy coverlet laid loosely about her. I wondered had Edna had done this before she left. I stirred and tried to sit, but found myself quite weak, my head yet swimming. I had rustled the covers, though, and the whispered sound apparently woke Vivienne for she sat up just then.”

 

“Vivienne was nothing but kind and gracious, and served me quite flawlessly. Grier made biscuits, especially for me, Vivi told me. There was ham and scrambled eggs and fresh peaches and cream. There was fresh churned butter and honey from the beehive for the biscuits. And glorious coffee.”

 

rem:  Bonjour, Madame, bienvenue. It’s lovely to chat with you today.

VIVIENNE:  Bonjour, Robin. I believe it totally fitting for you to address me by my given name. You did give it to me, after all.

rem:  You grew up on Saisons Plantation. Tell us what that was like.

VIVIENNE:  Oh my goodness. I was born the year after the war started. My first memory is Papá announcing freedom to all the Negroes. He gathered us all under the great oak tree—the one with the swing now—and told them that any who wished were free to go.

rem:  What a poignant moment.

VIVIENNE:  Oh, it was indeed.

rem:  What a tremendous thing your father did. I’m sure they were grateful for their freedom.

VIVIENNE:  smiles They were, Robin. But none of them left Saisons. They all stayed with us and were paid servants instead.

rem:  I recall how benevolent your papá was.

VIVIENNE:  He was kind to all.

rem:  You and your husband run the plantation now, correct?

VIVIENNE:  Henry has a passion for the tea and rice.

rem:  You have a special blend of tea. How did that come about?

VIVIENNE:  laughs When Eti and Gérard and I were small, we were playing at making tea, using pecans.

rem:  How inventive you were.

VIVIENNE:  We were small. We used what we could. laughs We also made pies from mud.

rem:  Who’s idea was it to use pecans?

VIVIENNE:  sighs Eti’s. She always was most inventive.

rem:  I understand you and she were close.

VIVIENNE:  nods

rem:  Can you tell me about her.

VIVIENNE:  hesitates, takes deep breath She was a ray of sunshine, a bundle of joy. No one didn’t love her.

rem:  You had the same birthday didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  smiles Yes. She arrived the day I turned three. Just months before the war ended.

rem:  She followed after you wherever you went.

VIVIENNE:  And mimicked everything I ever did.

rem:  Was that annoying to you?

VIVIENNE:  Mercy, no. I delighted in it.

rem:  pause She died a very tragic death. Can you tell us what happened?

VIVIENNE:  She was pushed. We all knew it. She was in her wheelchair, and fell from the balcony outside her rooms. She couldn’t even stand—she was yet recovering from another fall.

rem:  Also not an accident, correct?

VIVIENNE:  Suzi was so tiny but she saw… She didn’t know who it was, and couldn’t describe very well.

rem:  You knew who it was though, didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  Yes. We all knew. It was Lissette Fontaine.

rem:  Vivienne, I’m so sorry.

VIVIENNE:  Thank you. Please forgive my temper. After all this time… I forgave the woman, but it still pains me.

PAUSE

rem:  You raised her girls, didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  loud sigh Yes, I did. They were a delight.

rem:  Where was their papá, Monsieur Rowan?

VIVIENNE:  closes eyes She seduced him. And then ran off—and took our dear Simone.

rem:  Dear Vivienne, you have suffered great loss.

VIVIENNE:  We all did. Violet stopped talking, Suzi became most belligerent. They both had nightmares. pauses We adjusted, though. They are now delightful young women.

rem:  A change for you, I’m sure, after raising three boys.

VIVIENNE:  laughs Most certainly different.

rem:  Vivienne, I thank you for chatting with me today. My condolences on your losses.

VIVIENNE:  I thank you, Robin. And it has been my pleasure.

 

http://robinemason.com

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https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877
http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S
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https://plus.google.com/u/0/108929134414473292325

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7808042.Robin_E_Mason

 

The pursed expression on Eléanore’s face was most entertaining. Clearly she viewed Violet’s mute tongue as a deficiency, and her ability to communicate using her hands as some sort of sacrilege.

            Violet looked to Vivienne, who signed back to her that all was well, and to dismiss the vieille vache. The old cow.

            Vivienne smiled quite demurely, laughing most gaily with her amber eyes. Violet smiled large and satisfied.”

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, The Long Shadows of Summer, Seasons Series, Character Interview, Vivienne Hampton, Lissette Fontaine

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